Brands need to stay ahead of the curve


By JOY LEE

Combating fake news: (from left) Lau, Chao, Kamarul and Yee discuss the role of the media in tackling post-truths.

PETALING JAYA: Given the rapid impact of technology on the business landscape, brand owners will need to adapt the way they engage with consumers to continue flourishing in the digital age.

Industry leaders have noted that the Industry Revolution 4.0 movement has not only changed the way companies operate but also redefined the way they communicate with their customers.

“Brands must strive to stay ahead of the curve. They can no longer just rely on the strength of their legacy or branding to move forward in this market.

“Managing a brand in the digital age is about staying relevant while keeping to your principles and what you stand for. This entails having the ability to communicate accurately, effectively and within the accepted time frame. Having the right stand or clarification will be rendered meaningless if the issue is no longer the talk of the hour, ” said Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng at the PR Comm 4.0: Managing Brand Reputation in the Digital Age live virtual seminar last week.

Politically correct vs. ethically right: (from left): Sivathambu, Kamaruddin, Yusof and Singh."Politically correct vs. ethically right: (from left): Sivathambu, Kamaruddin, Yusof and Singh."

The three-day live virtual seminar was organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Google and eLearningMinds, live on Cisco Webex.

Ng added that data and analytics have become increasingly important in helping brands connect with their customers. This is a view supported by Star Media Group’s senior general manager of digital and analytics Freddy Loo.

“Data analytics give companies valuable insights so that they can make their messages more relatable to their customers. Communications these days are not linear. There are many ways to engage your audience.

“The media still has a lot of influence on perception and having a good relationship with the media can help companies have a better gauge of the chatter around their brands. This will help them take necessary and timely measures to strengthen or negate upcoming campaigns, ” said Loo in the session Weaponise Brand Communication with Data Analytics.

However, it is not only about responding to insights. Entropia Global partner Neeraj Gulati also reminded brands to be transparent and authentic in their communications to consumers, particularly during times of crisis.

If there is a crisis that the brand is embroiled in, Neeraj urged companies to take responsibility and resolve the crisis while communicating the experience to their customers.He pointed out that 85% of people are likely to stick to brands during a crisis and it is important that brands continue to engage them to retain their positive advocates in the market.

Sustainability initiatives

Meanwhile, Perspective Strategies founder and managing director Andy See encouraged brands to be more purpose-driven and to start looking into their sustainability initiatives to resonate better with today’s consumers.

“Organisations need to look at the purpose of their organisations. Ask why and what sustainability agenda fits you in terms of people, planet and profits so that it is an authentic and genuine initiative in the long run.

“Consistency, authenticity and proven engagement over time will build brand credibility with your audience, ” said See.

In an age of social media, See also noted that brands need to learn how to co-create content with their consumers.

“In the past, content was very top-down. But it has expanded to active creation and then active co-creation. Brands need to see how they can co-create content with their consumers through various platforms and be part of the conversation.

“In this day and age, no one truly controls the content narrative anymore but it is a time where a lot of stakeholders create different content around the same information, ” he said.

With multiple content creators, however, there is also the possibility for the proliferation of fake news and brands will need to be swift and tactful in handling this.

Lau Chak Onn, editor-in-chief of online portal CILISOS said companies need to act on fake news to preserve the integrity of their brands.

“The pervasiveness of technology has made it easier for those who want to persuade others or spread lies, ” cautioned Kamarul Bahrin Haron, editor-in-chief of Astro Awani.

Lau and Kamarul, along with documentary filmmaker Steve Chao were part of the panel discussion on Journalism in a Post-truth Era moderated by R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee.

As the role of the media becomes increasingly important in communicating accurate and relevant information across various stakeholders, Google Malaysia Marc Woo reiterated Google’s support for journalism and the news ecosystem, noting the tech giant’s various efforts to connect readers to legitimate and authoritative publishers.

“In 2018, we launched the Google News Initiative to help journalism strive in the digital age. We have been working with partners to help publishers with data-driven insights. And this has helped increase reader loyalty and profitability.

“Success can only be achieved when we all work together, ” said Woo.

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